As a fan of Marcel Proust who loves the way he perceives the world as depicted in À la recherche du temps perdu, I thought I should write down my answers to the most popular version of his iconic questionnaire in my first unequivocally personal blog post, even though my answers may very well change tomorrow:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Time travel. Interplanetary travel. As for a slightly more down-to-earth answer, visiting the most beautiful, inspiring- ethereal or eerie- places, absorbing every moment spent there and feeling connected to the place, living in the present, and having a cultivated soul.
What is your greatest fear?
Death. Non-existence. Annihilation. Oblivion. Aging. Bugs.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Literary figures: Virginia Woolf & Sylvia Plath.
Which living person do you most admire?
Tilda Swinton. Richard Dawkins. David Lynch. Plus anyone who positively influences the world, who is aware of the whole picture and manages to focus on the good rather than the bad in the world, overall.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I will mention a few, although I have conflicting feelings about these traits as I don’t always deplore them: cynicism, the low-key need to be in control, fickleness in some respects, ricocheting between emotional frostiness and impulsiveness, scepticism to the point where I start being sceptical of my own scepticism, and taking myself too seriously (but otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able or feel propelled to write!).
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Duplicity, hypocrisy. Prejudice. Lack of empathy and inability to listen. Arrogance. Wrong life values. Underestimating me.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My luxury perfume collection. Not sleeping at night.
What is your favourite journey?
towards self-awareness and self-development, through self-indulgence and creative fulfilment.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Sympathy (not empathy). Contentment. Humility and prudence in women’s case.
On what occasion do you lie?
When the conversation doesn’t matter, or when I’m convinced that telling the truth wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone involved.
Which living person do you most despise?
anyone who uses their power to negatively influence, harm, ruin, or eradicate the lives of innocent people, either on an individual level, or on an organised level.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
aesthetic. surreal. oh my god. yeah. no.
What is your greatest regret?
caring when I shouldn’t have. not caring when I should have.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
perfume, cinema, music, labyrinthine architecture
When and where were you happiest?
I don’t remember exactly but I’m gonna say it was probably a case of frisson- “aesthetic chills”- that I experienced whilst watching a hypnotic, revealing, or epiphany-inducing film or piece of art.
Which talent would you most like to have?
a mesmerising, emotion-inducing, magical singing voice.
What is your current state of mind?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d give myself an infinite dose of productivity and the capacity to love the world freely and unconditionally. Getting rid of grudges. Being less fickle/wishy-washy in some respects.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
rising from the flames like a Phoenix.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
a fairy or a nymph.
What is your most treasured possession?
my perfume collection, my films collection, my velvet dresses collection,
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
not living the life you want, letting obsessions or demons consume you, feeling trapped.
Where would you like to live?
in a beautiful place adorned with paintings and different styles of decorations on each floor or in each room (Gothic, minimalist, dreamy, airy fantasy style etc). Also, in the distant future, maybe on a different, ultra-advanced planet. Either that or in one of the many film fantasy worlds I love.
What is your favourite occupation?
What is your most marked characteristic?
being artistically-inclined. being headstrong, perceptive/astute, experiencing derealisation and zoning out (this sounds contradictory to the astuteness, but it’s actually not!); inquisitive, independent-minded, and a freethinker. looking sad or annoyed when I’m actually in a neutral or thoughtful mood.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Intelligence (including emotional intelligence), genuineness, confidence -not cockiness, self-awareness
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
strength, genuineness, intelligence, confidence, self-awareness
What do you most value in your friends?
kindness, authenticity, having my best interests at heart, trustworthiness, & respecting confidentiality
Who are your favourite writers?
Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Vladimir Nabokov, Hermann Hesse
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Jessica Jones, Vanessa Ives, Jean des Esseintes, Violet Baudelaire, Rogue
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I like my appearance overall, but there are two or three things I would/will probably change if I can.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Inspiring women who are unapologetically fierce and do whatever they feel like (unless they are psychopaths or something equally worrying).
What are your favourite names?
Morgana, Diana, Ariadna, Mordred, Crystal.
What is it that you most dislike?
pity, prejudice, labels.
How would you like to die?
Knowing that I will be revived as an immortal goddess, mostly because I want to live forever, but all the other perks would be fun too!
What is your favourite motto?
Do no harm, but take no shit. // C’est la vie. //
Incantation-“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
Quotes-“I stopped explaining myself when I realised other people only understand from their level of perception.”
“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”
Write your own answers to all or some of these below, I’m interested to see!
5 thoughts on “The adapted version of The Proust Questionnaire”
I truly enjoyed this read. It’s wonderful to have the rare opportunity of entering into the world of another person expressed, to the best of their ability at the moment, with such honesty. It’s always a joy to come upon an expression where I am sad to see it come to an end. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this!
Could you perhaps elaborate on the train of thought that made you mention “(expressed), to the best of their ability at the moment, (with such honesty)”? Just curious!
It’s refreshing to have someone ask me to elaborate on something. Since you bracketed “expressed” and “with such honesty” I will focus on them. Since I can’t ask you to elaborate on what you are asking, I will shoot from the hip.
Being alive is an expression. Living is art. A technical manual on how to build a diesel engine is an expression. The diesel engine is an expression. Society and it’s values is an expression of the people in the society. The conflict within the society is an expression of the people within the society. A tweet from Donald Trump is an expression. Not one that I necessarily appreciate, yet it is art. An expression. Intentionally telling lies is art and seeking the truth is art.
“to the best of their ability at the moment” was feeding from what you stated at the beginning of your expression.”even though my answers may change tomorrow.” This, to me, is an accurate statement of life in general. All things change. Our perspectives change daily, even every moment. We are always progressing, even when it seems we are going backwards. Even when we are depressed and unproductive, thinking that our lives are wasting away, we are progressing. Ever changing. Ever growing. Ever progressing. Toward what? Some might say “death.” so all is vanity. Take death out of the scenario and all is life, alive and beautiful. This, of course is the conflict humans constantly have to live with and deal with in each their own way. Focusing on death or focusing on life. Sadly, from what I’ve seen, the plague of fear that infests the world is about not coming to terms with death and truly being alive. That dreaded unknown that no one will be able to investigate until they actually pass through it’s gates. Why fear the unknown? Welcome it as simply as part of the adventure in a life where everything is unknown until we pass through the gates of time and it expresses itself into our moment or present.
“with such honesty.” This is one that I do get into trouble with but it seems I continue to have the same value in regards to it. Unless I see reason not to, I always accept a person at face value. That what they are offering is “honest” unless I see sarcasm or satire in what they are saying. One proven to be dishonest, if it is important to them, they will have to earn my trust. This can be a long process because I offer that trust for free the first time. As a gift. It is quite expensive to regain if lost. I am forgiving and rarely hold grudges but if a person seeks to intentionally deceive me after I gave them a gift then they have expressed themselves in the art of deception, therefore their future expressions will always be seen with great skepticism.
With this said, I take what you expressed about yourself as honesty to the best of your ability at the moment. You were honest in saying that they may change tomorrow. Therefore I will accept that, when they change, it is as you said and that I will hopefully enjoy that perspective as much as I enjoyed this one. If not, that’s okay because the foundations of our relationship was based on honesty. I would merely be viewing your new art or expression as being honesty and, therefore, i would enjoy that honesty and the joy that you are expressing the art at the time, even though I might not enjoy the painting.
As Albert Camus said, “It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.” I find such joy in those who put forth the effort to express themselves beyond the basic tasks of living. Reaching out into the world, even the universe, seeking connection and intimacy with it through the expression of their spirit or heart. Observing and enjoying each stroke of the brush on their canvass. The way they hold the brush. Their eyes as they intently look at their subject then back to the canvass. Their facial expressions. The posture of their body. The art of creating art while expressing the beauty of being alive.
Even though I might not actually appreciate their painting. Art comes with one primary law that we must all adhere. The fact that light and dark will always be a part of our lives in this realm of existence. The dark expressions of Donald Trump and the beautiful expressions of a dancer have to be allowed in order to be able to experience appreciation of art. Without the darkness we can’t appreciate the light. Interestingly enough, there is much within the darkness to appreciate also. It’s all about being alive.
I hope I answered your question. Please feel free to seek further clarity if you desire. If not, I look forward to experiencing your future expressions and will go on enjoying those that you have already expressed.
What a great piece!
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